Netanyahu Says He Again Invites Abbas to Meet and Will Clear His Calendar

Israeli PM was responding to an interview the Palestinian president gave Channel 2 in which he claimed Israel rejected meeting offer; 'My door is always open for those who want to pursue peace with Israel,' Netanyahu says.

Netanyahu talks with Abbas during a group photo at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris, France, November 30, 2015.
AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he again invites Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him.

Speaking at the beginning of a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, the prime minster's comments were made in response to remarks by the Palestinian president's claims that he wanted to arrange a meeting with Netanyahu but Netanyahu had refused.

"I heard that President Abbas said if I invite him to meet, he will come," the Israeli prime minister said Monday. "I am inviting him again. I will clear my schedule this week and any day he can come I will be here. The first item I want to discuss with him is ending the Palestinian incitement campaign against Israel. My door is always open for those who want to pursue peace with Israel."

In his interview with Channel 2 last Thursday, Abbas said in the course of talks that the heads of the Palestinian security forces had with the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and with Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, the head of the Central Command of the Israel Defense Forces, which were first reported by Haaretz, the Palestinians proposed a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu. The meeting was purportedly sought so the two leaders could discuss the Palestinian demand that the IDF cease operating in portions of the West Bank designated as Area A. According to the Oslo Accords from the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority was to have full responsibility for security as well as civilian administration in Area A.

Abbas said Netanyahu did not respond positively to the suggested meeting. “I’m prepared to meet Netanyahu anywhere, any time,” Abbas told Channel 2's Ilana Dayan.

In the course of his interview, Abbas warned that if the current situation is to continue, the Palestinian Authority is liable to collapse, adding that the Palestinian Authority, which he heads, is already on the verge of collapse. Abbas said he has been committed to security cooperation with Israel but has asked Netanyahu to halt IDF activity in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank. The cities are all in Area A. “Try me for a week — if I don’t meet my responsibilities, then come back,” he said to Dayan.

Abbas claimed Israel has violated the Oslo Accords since the end of the year 2000, when he said IDF forces began entering Area A on a daily basis. The second Palestinian intifada broke out in September of 2000 and lasted for several years.

For his part, Abbas said despite repeated Palestinian requests and despite the close security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu has still been insisting that the IDF enter West Bank Palestinian cities without limitation. An IDF force even approached his home in Ramallah, Abbas told Channel 2, and demanded that his security guards throw down their weapons. The incident came close to becoming a violent confrontation, the Palestinian president said.

Addressing Netanyahu in the interview, Abbas said: “Give me responsibility for the Palestinian territories, and test me... if Israel has specific intelligence information, give it to me and I’ll handle it. If I don’t handle it, he [Netanyahu] can come and do it, correct? But they don’t give me the intelligence informationSo what am I doing here? Where is the security cooperation? You want me to be your employee. Your agent. I don’t accept this. I want to do it myself.”

Abbas stressed that he retains security coordination with Israel to prevent escalation in violence as well as fears of a collapse of the PA. "If we give up security coordination there will be chaos here. There will be rifles, and explosions and armed militants popping up everywhere and rushing at Israel. Without the coordination, a bloody intifada would break out. I want to cooperate with the Israelis. There is an agreement between us and I am not ashamed by it. But [Netanyahu] must respect it."